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The SharePoint 2010 Interface

Posted By:Manning       Posted Date: January 30, 2011    Points: 75    Category: SharePoint    URL: http://www.dotnetspark.com  

The first thing the users of SharePoint 2010 will notice, if they have worked with SharePoint before, is the new interface. Menus have drastically changed and moved around.

This article is taken from the book SharePoint 2010 Web Parts in Action. The author shows you different ways to query a standard Tasks list for all items that have the status set to Completed.

Get 40% off any version of SharePoint 2010 Web Parts in Action with the checkout code dnspark40. Offer is only valid through www.manning.com.

The first thing the users of SharePoint 2010 will notice, if they have worked with SharePoint before, is the new interface. Menus have drastically changed and moved around. They have a more modern design, but it will not take long before the users find themselves at home again. SharePoint hides a lot of information and functionality to avoid cluttering the interface and only shows it when you move the mouse over it or when you need it. For example, the Web Part options menu is only visible when your mouse cursor is over the Web Part.

SharePoint has several new and improved features, including the Ribbon, famous from Microsoft Office 2007, and AJAX dialogs and notifications. These components, which we are going to review in this article, make SharePoint more usable and efficient to work with. It also gives us, developers, a whole new way to interact with the users of our Web Parts.

Visual Upgrade

If you are upgrading or have updated your SharePoint 2010 site from SharePoint 2007, you will notice that the SharePoint 2007 interface is still there. This is because of the new enhancements in the SharePoint upgrade procedure that uses the backward-compatible master pages. At any time, you can switch over to the new 2010 interface, temporarily or permanently, using the Visual Upgrade option under Site Settings.

The new SharePoint user interface and the Ribbon

Microsoft Office 2007 introduced a revolutionary and innovative interface using a completely rebuilt menu and toolbar system, including the now well-known Ribbon interface, shown in Figure 1. The Ribbon is the new combined menu and toolbar and it is based on the users' current context. For example, if the user is editing a table, then the table editing commands appear. This contextually aware interface has now made it into SharePoint 2010, which is one of the most significant changes for the end-users.

Figure 1 SharePoint now includes The Ribbon toolbar, introduced in Office 2007. The Ribbon is contextually aware and changes its contents depending on what the user is trying to do. When the user, for instance, selects a Web Part the necessary tabs for editing Web Parts appears.

The Ribbon consists of a number of Tabs that are divided into sections containing controls. These Tabs can be contextually aware and appear when needed. For example, when editing a page, the Editing Tools Tab Set appears, containing the Format Text and Insert tab. And, when a Web Part is selected, the Web Part Tools set with the Options Tab becomes available. The tabs and sections are dynamically loaded without any post-backs and screen refreshes, which makes the interface easy and productive to use. Even a Web Part like the SharePoint Server Media Web Part can have its own Ribbon controls.

The whole Ribbon experience is extensible in the way that you can add and remove tabs, sections, groups, and controls to make a great end-user experience.

SharePoint has borrowed other features from the Microsoft Office user interface such as Live Previews and Galleries. Live Previews make the editing process faster and allow you to live preview your design changes without saving the information.

Other interface improvements

The Ribbon is not the only interface improvement in SharePoint 2010. SharePoint is using AJAX-based dialogs and notifications as well as other JavaScript-based features that you can extend.

SharePoint extensively uses the new AJAX-based Dialog Framework to avoid post-backs and make the web interface faster and more accessible. The dialog framework is a JavaScript-based framework that creates modal dialogs instead of popup windows and redirecting the user to new pages. This is used, for instance, when you click to edit an item in a list. Instead of going to a new page, which you did in SharePoint 2007, you are now presented with an in-browser overlay popup window.

Another dynamic interface feature is the status bar, located under the Ribbon and the notification messages. The status bar gives status messages to the user and the possibility to take some action without interrupting the work. The status bar can give information about configuration errors or that there are actions that need to be taken care of. For example, the status bar is used when you have a save conflict on a Web Part page. In Central Administration, this status bar is used to notify the administrators if the Health Analyzer has detected any issues, as seen in Figure 2.

Figure 2 The Central Administration in SharePoint contains a Health Analyzer, which analyzes the current state of the farm. If any critical errors are found, the Health Analyzer uses the status bar to notify the administrators.

Notification messages are small messages that appear below the ribbon on the right-hand side when, for instance, a page is loading or saving. This completes our discussion of SharePoint 2010 features.


In this article, I displayed the SharePoint 2010 interface and discussed how the new version improves the user experience through Ribbon, familiar from Office 2007, and other features. The new interface shrinks the learning curve by retaining the Office 2007 interface.

SharePoint 2010 Web Parts in Action

Wictor Wilén
MEAP Release: March 2010
Softbound print: December 2010 (est.) | 375 pages
ISBN: 9781935182771

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